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Healthy Alternatives for the Holidays

( [email protected] ) Dec 11, 2008 05:44 AM EST
The holidays can be a tough time for anyone who is on a diet or who is simply trying to eat healthfully. The combination of sugar cookies, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes will make anyone gain a few pounds. Even if weight is not an issue, it is important to make healthy choices come holiday time.

The holidays can be a tough time for anyone who is on a diet or who is simply trying to eat healthfully. The combination of sugar cookies, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes will make anyone gain a few pounds. Even if weight is not an issue, it is important to make healthy choices come holiday time.

Thanksgiving can be a real diet deal breaker—not only do people consume way too much food, but the food coma afterwards is so serious that no one can move to work off even a few calories. Although Thanksgiving only comes once a year, there’s no reason to eat until the point of no return; make sure to cut portion sizes so that you still have room for a [very small] sliver of pie!

The good news is that Turkey, a lean meat, is high in protein and low in calories. The bad news is that once gravy is added, that lean, low calorie food turns into a diet disaster. Other danger foods include stuffing, candied yams, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole—basically the whole spread! You also have to be concerned about salt and added sugars.

Stuffing is delicious, but portion size is crucial. Make sure that stuffing occupies the smallest portion of the plate…along with the mashed potatoes. Potatoes are high in vitamins and nutrients, but are mostly known for their high carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams per medium potato). Too many carbohydrates are never a good thing, especially when butter is added to the potatoes.

Next time you make your mashed potatoes, try whipping them with olive oil instead of butter. The fat in olive oil is 100% better for you than butter (think unsaturated fats!) and the taste will be delicious as well.

Instead of making candied yams with sugar and marshmallows, try making yam fries —simply slice yams, top them with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a touch of rosemary and bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes (cooking times vary depending on the oven). The taste of yam fries is incredible and the amount of calories you will be saving is tremendous.

Cranberry sauce is full of sugar so this year try to make your own version. Cranberry-apple sauce is a great substitute and so easy to make at home. Not only will you save yourself from all of the extra sugar; you will also impress your whole family.

Green bean casserole might seem healthy, but cream of mushroom soup, the base of this dish, is packed with calories. Instead of the usual casserole, try sautéing green beans with mushrooms, olive oil, and garlic. Pack your plate with these delicious veggies and you will be in great shape!

Just remember, everything is fine in moderation—a word not usually mentioned during the holidays. If you eat in moderation you will enjoy your meal so much more and will actually be awake and lively in the aftermath to enjoy your family and friends! Merry Christimas and a Happy New Year.

On the Web:

melslife.com

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Melissa “mel” Melcombe is a 24-year-old writer, speaker and developer of the healthy living Web site called melslife, which has become the leading source of healthy living information for “echo boomers” or “millennials.” Melcombe does not see herself as an expert, but rather as a passionate person who has lots of opinions about health, food, and healthy lifestyles, and she wants to share her information.